One of the best parts about being a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins these days — is that chances are, you’ll be playing in the postseason.
Making this their seventh consecutive trip to the playoffs, the Pens have become a rather attractive team.
For players like Jarome Iginla, Brenden Morrow, Douglas Murray, Jussi Jokinen and Tomas Vokoun, it will be their first go-round with the Pens.
Some of them haven’t seen the playoffs in a while.
Iginla and Jokinen haven’t been to the postseason in four years, and Morrow hasn’t been in five.
Yet every one of these five players have one thing in common — no Stanley Cups.
The playoff droughts for all five will finally come to an end though, and Morrow couldn’t be more anxious:
“You’d figure the older you get the less that happens. But you still get it. Had restless sleep at night. That first game, the butterflies come back, the adrenaline starts pumping a little bit more. Those are really good feelings. I really enjoy having them.”
All five of these players were brought in for this moment.
Shaky goaltending and defense have lead to the acquisitions of Murray and Vokoun, while the other three forwards have leadership qualities every team can’t get enough of come playoff time.
“I’m feeling as good as I’ve felt now as far as energy than I have in a while …this is exciting, this new experience. I don’t feel that pressure or have that pressure of being a leader at all.”
What’s even more impressive about all five guys is that they wanted to come to Pittsburgh. Iginla and Morrow were captains with no-trade clauses, and both of them bid farewell to their longtime franchises with ease.
Jokinen heard he was traded — but didn’t know who. And when he mentioned Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford told him it was the Pens whom he was dealt to, the forward couldn’t have been more “excited.”
Excited to join a group that already had bonafide superstars — to which they now possess endless veteran leadership.
Leadership that will hopefully carry them deep into the playoffs.
Murray knows this. But he also recognizes that past postseason exposure can really help the individual player perhaps greater when it’s later in a series:
“Sometimes I think it comes down to an individual. I’ve been around a long time I think experience helps later in the series more than anything … once you’re in the playoffs it’s more how the individual is. Some guys rise during the playoffs, some guys don’t.”
The time to rise for them is now.
Game 1 between the New York Islanders and the Pittsburgh Penguins will be tomorrow in the CONSOL Energy Center at 7:30 p.m.